Module 09 - Formats for Letters and Memos
Students should be careful not to assume gender with names such as
Robin, Chris, Francis, Sean, or Lee. In cases where names are not
specific to gender and the writer does not know the reader, use the
complete name (e.g., Dear Chris Crowell). When students know
neither, they can use a job title, general group, or replace the salutation
with a subject line. Students should also bear in mind that names in
cultures other than their own may also carry connotations, including
Whenever using a list of names, the names should be expressed in
Teaching Tip: Have students ever received
correspondence that assumed the wrong gender? Or that
they were married when they were single? Or that used the wrong courtesy title?
How did the mistake make them feel? What did they think about the individual or
organization that sent the correspondence? Have students bring examples they may
have to class and share.
In-Class Exercise: As a group, have students brainstorm as many names as
possible whose gender is neutral or unknown. In particular, tell students to
consider names that might represent non-western cultures or smaller cultural groups
in the U.S. or Canada.
How should I set up memos? LO 9-4
The standard memo format mimics block format but has no
salutation, close, or signature.
As illustrated on PP 9-14 through PP 9-16, memos are similar in basic
format to letters, but omit both the salutation and close. Memos also
lack paragraph indentations, always use subject lines, and sometimes
use headings. Though some memos are signed at the bottom with a
signature, most are only initialed at the top of the page, next to the
Figure 9.8 (p. 138) illustrates a standard memo format. When
discussing it, be sure to point out elements that differ from letters.
Teaching Tip: Because memos typically are internal
documents, their format and style may sometimes seem more casual than letters.
However, students should understand that the same expectations for neatness and
consistency in format apply. “Casual” is not synonymous with “unprofessional.”
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